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Need to Know: First look at Redskins vs. Bears

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Need to Know: First look at Redskins vs. Bears

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, October 16, four days before the Washington Redskins play the Chicago Bears at FedEx Field.

Nickel coverage

Five things you need to know about the Chicago Bears:

1. The Bears decided not to bring back longtime star middle linebacker Brian Urlacher this spring and they made D. J. Williams the starter in his place. Now Williams is out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle he suffered in the Bears’ last game last Thursday night. Rookie Jon Bostic finished up that game and is now the starter. He’s a second-round pick out of Florida so he practiced against Redskins tight end Jordan Reed. Those two should cross paths at least a few times on Sunday.

2. Defensive end Julius Peppers carries a $14.83 million dollar salary cap hit this year, the highest on the team. The return on the Bears’ investment has been one sack and five tackles this year. To be fair, the Bears have been racked by injuries and Peppers is the only one of the four projected starters who playing in his original spot. Still, at age 33 you can’t help but think that time has caught up with the 33-year-old Peppers.

3. This week brings Round 2 of Jay Cutler against the coach who traded up in the 2006 draft in hopes of making him his team’s franchise quarterback. Of course, both Cutler and Mike Shanahan have since left the Broncos. The last meeting was in 2010 and Cutler threw four interceptions, all of them to DeAngelo Hall. The much-maligned 30-year-old signal caller is having a career year so far. He’s on pace to have his most passing yards ever, most touchdowns, and best passer rating and his interception percentage is near his career low for a season. Mark Trestman, his new head coach, appears to have done wonders for Cutler’s career, at least in the first six games.

4. Cutler has four prime pass-catching targets so the Redskins’ coverage will really have to be on point. The leading receiver is another former Shanahan draft picks, Brandon Marshall, who has 40 catches for 465 yards and five touchdowns. But the Redskins can’t focus on him and sleep on wide receiver Alshon Jeffry (29/456/2), tight end Martellus Bennett (31/349/3), or running back Matt Forte (33/244/0).

5. After giving up two long returns to Dwayne Harris last week the Redskins now have the task of trying to stop Devin Hester, one of the best kick returners ever. At age 31 he’s not having a stellar year, with no touchdowns scored. But he is averaging 30.3 years per kickoff return with a long of 80. The Redskins will have to hope that Kai Forbath is able to pound the ball high in the air and deep in the end zone on Sunday.

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Stat of the day

—The Bears are tied for second in the NFL with 17 takeaways (9 interceptions, 8 fumble recoveries). The Redskins have eight takeaways (3 INT, 5 fumbles) 23rd in the league.

Timeline

—Days until: Bears @ Redskins 4; Redskins @ Broncos 11; Chargers @ Redskins 18

—Today’s schedule: Player availability 11:15; Practice 1:00 (open to media for first 30 minutes); Mike Shanahan and Robert Griffin III news conferences after practice (approx. 3:00), available streaming on CSNwashington.com.                                           

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Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Redskins fans frenzied when Scot McCloughan said that Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback, but not a special one. The #KirkHive shuttered and the Kirk Haters celebrated.

McCloughan, the former Redskins GM who's wildly popular with fans, explained what few people will say publicly: Cousins is a skilled player but probably not deserving of the money he might make in free agency. 

Let's start with the obvious: Cousins is good.

He's a durable passer in a league that doesn't have enough of them. He's started the last 49 games for the Redskins and thrown for more than 4,000 yards each of the past three seasons. 

Now more obvious: He isn't great.

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Bleacher Report's Chris Simms, speaking on the #RedskinsTalk podcast, said Cousins ranks about 12th among NFL passers. It's top half of the league, but it's not Top 5 or even Top 10. 

Cousins has had tremendous games with the Redskins, like a near perfect performance against Oakland in 2017 or a dominant performance against Green Bay in 2016. 

Cousins has also been awful, as recently as Week 17 in New York a few weeks ago, or an equally stinky Week 17 game against the Giants two seasons ago. 

While some might view McCloughan's statement as controversial — "He’s a good player. Is he special? I don’t see special," he told Denver radio station 104.3 the Fan — it's not. 

Plenty of people agree with McCloughan, including some in Redskins Park. Last year, a source told NBC Sports Washington that the team believed they could get nearly as much production from Colt McCoy as Cousins provided. 

Even this year, Washington head coach Jay Gruden offered lukewarm praise of his quarterback.

When the season ended, asked to evaluate Cousins' play, the coach said, "When you’re 7-9, it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ There’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent [Williams] when he played was a Pro Bowl-type and Brandon [Scherff] when he was healthy was a Pro Bowl-type guy. Kirk had his flashes where he was really good. From a consistent standpoint, over the course of 16 games, you know, we’re 7-9."

That quote made headlines when Gruden said it, much like McCloughan's comments now are circulating faster than Beltway traffic. 

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Truth is, it's not new. And it's not news.

There are coaches that think Cousins is only scratching the surface of his capabilities. Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay come to mind, but both of those coaches have other QBs likely for the long-term future. 

Cousins might end up being paid like a Top 3 quarterback in the NFL, and that might be the right move given the demand at the position. Will that make him a special passer?

Not if special is defined as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. Even Cousins wouldn't argue with that.

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Redskins Fan of the Year bracket: Which Washington supporter deserves the title?

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Redskins Fan of the Year bracket: Which Washington supporter deserves the title?

Every week during the 2017 Redskins season, NBC Sports Washington found two Redskins fans in the crowd and paired them in a head-to-head matchup on Twitter to determine the fan of the game.

And now that the season is over, it's time to take each of those winners, throw them into a NCAA Tournament-style bracket and let Twitter pick the Redskins Fan of the Year.

Starting on January 8 over on the @NBCSRedskins Twitter account, one matchup a day will be posted at 11 a.m., and fans will have 24 hours to vote for their favorite supporter by retweeting or liking depending on their preference. Week 1's winner will face off with Week 17's, Week 2's will play Week 16's, etc.

The winners will advance, and eventually, one member of the Burgundy and Gold faithful will stand above all the rest, earning the coveted title of Redskins Fan of the Year. 

Check out the results below, which'll be updated every day. To see the tweet that corresponded with each matchup, click the link after the date, but remember, retweets and likes submitted after the 24-hour period won't be counted.

ELITE 8 RESULTS

January 18: Round two, matchup one

The first Elite 8 matchup was... not close:

January 19: Round two, matchup two

The Elite 8's second tilt is underway. Vote now:


FIRST ROUND RESULTS

January 8: Round one, matchup one

This was a close one that came down to the last-minute, but at the 24-hour mark, Week 17's winner garnered justtttttttt enough retweets to move on.

January 9: Round one, matchup two

In this tournament, a giant Redskins chain is apparently worth more than a giant football hat.

January 10: Round one, matchup three

In the tournament's third showdown, we have our first winner from the Likes side:

January 11: Round one, matchup four

Was there anyway she wasn't gonna win, especially with the little Hogettes nose?

January 12: Round one, matchup five

Our fifth matchup's winner earned the most retweets of anyone up to this point:

January 15: Round one, matchup six

These three 'Skins fans had to witness Washington's Thursday night flop in Dallas, so it's only fair that they get to advance to the second round:

January 16: Round one, matchup seven

You'd think a turkey hat would be enough to capture a W, but not in this one:

January 17: Round one, matchup eight

The Elite 8 is now set with this showdown going to the retweets side: